Inside the Mystery of Brookfield Asset Management

An article in the Financial Times profiles what it describes as the $500 billion “secretive investment firm” Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian group that grew out of the Seagram liquor dynasty and today “attracts money from ordinary stock market investors, sophisticated public pension systems and sovereign states including Qatar.”

“Brookfield began with a $15 m inheritance and a family feud,” the article reports, chronicling the company’s founding by Samuel Bronfman, who “made a fortune out of alcohol just as America turned to prohibition,” and subsequent years riddled with family drama and a takeover battle. By the 1980’s, Samuel’s nephews Edward and Peter Bronfman were two of Canada’s richest men. Edward sold his shares in 1989, but Peter remained to “orchestrate the deal that would create Brookfield.”

Brookfield is described as a complex and secretive firm, a “giant, triangular jigsaw board that spreads across the world and covers assets worth $500 billion,” including hundreds of corporate entities “locked together by elaborate contracts.” The firm’s investment portfolio reportedly includes 14,500 kilometers of railways and toll roads, a portion of France’s mobile phone towers, and Westinghouse. The firm also swept in to rescue Jared Kushner and his family with an investment in 666 Fifth Avenue in 2019, months before $1.2 billion in mortgage payments were to come due.